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When everyone’s talking about a great new credit card, it’s natural to want to get in on the action. Few cards have gotten more buzz in recent years than the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, a premium travel rewards card offering high points-earning opportunities and other lucrative benefits.
But the card comes with a $550 annual fee. For some users, the perks are well worth it. For others, the math doesn’t work out so well. Here’s how to decide whether the Chase Sapphire Reserve® is for you.
The annual fee is worth it if you ...
Spend at least $300 a year on travel
The saving grace of the Chase Sapphire Reserve®’s $550 annual fee is that it’s partly offset by a $300 annual statement credit for travel purchases. Use the card to pay for hotels, plane tickets, Uber and Lyft rides, taxis or campground fees, and those purchases get reimbursed for a total of up to $300 a year.
This perk offsets all but $250 of the annual fee.
Can responsibly spend $4,000 on the card in the first three months
Chase Sapphire Reserve®’s biggest lure is its welcome offer: Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®..
If you can responsibly spend that much, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® is more likely to be worth its annual fee. Those who can't meet these stipulations might consider looking for cards with lower minimum-spending requirements.
Eat out a lot
The Chase Sapphire Reserve® offers 10x on Chase Dining purchases through the Ultimate Rewards® portal and 3x points at all other restaurants. This is a solid earn rate for dining.
This perk is offered in addition to the $60 in DoorDash credits (through 2021) if you often order food delivery.
Spend a lot on travel
When booked through the Ultimate Rewards® portal, you will earn 5x on flights and 10x on hotel stays and car rentals. All other travel purchases earn 3x points after using your $300 travel credit.
Through March 2022, you'll also earn 10 points per $1 on all Lyft rides.
» Learn more: All of the ways riding Lyft can earn you travel rewards
Regularly fly out of terminals with Priority Pass lounges
The Chase Sapphire Reserve® comes with complimentary Priority Pass Select membership, offering access to more than 1,300 airport lounges across the globe. Nearly every major U.S. airport has one, but you should browse lounge locations to see if you’ll actually use this benefit.
Chase has also announced that it will open three new Chase Sapphire Lounges by The Club in New York’s LaGuardia Airport, Boston Logan International Airport and in Hong Kong International Airport.
Will use the other perks
This card also comes with a complimentary one-year membership to Lyft Pink, as well as a one-year subscription to DashPass (via DoorDash). If you're a frequent Lyft rider and someone who orders food delivery, both perks can make the annual fee feel more worth it.
Perks like no foreign transaction fees, travel protection and extended warranties add built-in value for cardholders, too.
» Learn more: The beginners guide to points and miles
The annual fee is not worth it if you ...
Carry a balance or incur late fees
This is a reality when it comes to any credit card: Interest rates and late fees can add up faster than rewards.
If you don’t pay off the balance in full every month, the “free travel” you’re earning could cost you more than you would pay if you had just bought plane tickets and hotel rooms out of pocket.
Don’t spend at least $300 a year on travel
If you don’t spend enough to take advantage of the Chase Sapphire Reserve®’s $300 annual travel credit, the card’s $550 annual fee will probably cost you too much.
Have problems justifying the costs beyond the travel credit
Once you’ve gotten that $300 travel credit every year, you’re still looking at a $250-a-year cost for this card. Will you actually use it enough to rack up more than $250 worth of rewards, or should you check out other travel credit cards that might be a better fit?
To find out, look at the numbers. Our calculator can help:
If you're weighing the cost of the Chase Sapphire Reserve®
For any card with a hefty annual fee, it's helpful to thoughtfully consider whether or not you will get enough value to justify the upfront costs. Big travel spenders, those who eat out regularly and those who take advantage of airport lounges can easily make the math work in their favor.
Anyone who spends frugally on travel may be better off considering other, more affordable travel reward credit cards.
How to Maximize Your Rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2021, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card